Harvest-a-Long: Lessons Learned

There’s a concept used in my industry, probably from a business book no one can remember the name of anymore, known as Lessons Learned. When you finish up a project, the team gets together and thinks about how things could go better the next time. Sure, some whining happens, but the focus is on how you can do things differently to make it all go better next time. 

Lessons learned apply to crafts, too. 

I learn something with every project. Sometimes it’s something little, like that a particular yarn likes to split so the lesson learned is to use a needle with rounded, rather than sharp, tips. Sometimes it’s something you can’t believe you never thought to do differently. 

My Harvest sweater left me some major lessons learned.  Lessons I thought I had learned before. 

*sigh*

Thing is, my sweater doesn’t fit me. I chose the wrong size to make. Got gauge, followed the directions. Doesn’t fit. 

Yep, I wrote a whole post about measuring yourself and choosing a size. Yet, I made the wrong one for me. 

I chose the size exactly the same as my chest measurement, measuring around my widest point in my chest. This means that there was zero ease. 

Lesson One: Cotton does not stretch

Next time I work with this yarn or another cotton, I should add at least and extra inch to account for the fact cotton does not stretch. (And maybe add a bit more if I intend to throw it in the dryer when I’m too impatient to let it dry flat.)

Lesson Two: Remember your body type

Unlike the standard person sweaters are designed for, I have broad shoulders and, well, a small chest. In the future, I need to account for this. 

Amy Herzog has an amazing blog series called Fit to Flatter which is also available in book form. In the post on choosing your sweater size, she describes how to take a better measurement than the tradition chest one. I won’t rehash what she says, but the lesson from Amy for me is that I often need to knit a size or two larger than the pattern calls for. 

The Sweater

I tried on the sweater and even wore it a few times before blocking it. From the start, it felt tight across my shoulders and I couldn’t quite close it. After blocking it via washer and dryer, it is not at all flattering. And, worse, it’s just not comfortable. Here’s a photo I took of me trying it on, about the only photo I have of me wearing it. Notice how it won’t close, yet bunches at my armpits. Signs of a poor fit. 


Don’t worry, though, the sweater will not be relegated to the back of my closet. I’m lucky to have a friend for whom the sweater is a perfect fit. It’s actually winging its way across town (so more like fighting I-66 traffic) to my friend KO to keep her warm on chilly days at work. 

I will knit myself another sweater one of these days. And I will remember my lessons learned.  (Either way, I’ll blog about it, you can be sure.)

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Harvest-a-Long: Lessons Learned

Harvest-a-log: Sleeve Island

Knitters like to refer to the sleeves of a sweater as Sleeve Island, an analogy I’ve never understood. Is it because they take so long it feels like you’re at sea and will never see land/an island? I have no idea.

Anyway..the sleeves on this sweater are pretty standard. You pick up the held stitches then pick up some stitches on the underarm. I do this as follows.

I slide my needle into the held stitches, keeping the waste yarn – mine is bright pink – until I’m totally certain I picked up every stitch properly. That translucent blue plastic is the cord from my circular.

And, from a bit farther away. Ignore the odd photos. We were in the car, stopped on the side of the road so Matt could take a photo of the countryside.

I will warn you now, even once you start knitting the entire sleeve, you’re likely to leave little holes on either side of the underarm. No problem! Just use a bit of yarn from your cast on to close that hole when you’re weaving in ends.

Okay, now’s the really boring part. Just knit and knit and knit on that sleeve, being sure you start the decreases where it says. Then, before you know it, it’s time to start the second sleeve.

Harvest-a-log: Sleeve Island

Harvest-a-long: Let’s get started

Hello, all, and welcome to the official start of the Harvest-a-long!

It’s currently noon (or will be, when this post actually shows up) here on the East Coast, so time to pick up your larger size needles and waste yarn (with your project yarn close at hand) and cast on.

(First, a bit of a confession. I started my sweater last Saturday in order to show you guys what each step will look like as you get to it. Those are the photos you’ll see here. In the spirit of the KAL, though, I will be starting on a mini version for Lizzie when ya’ll start at noon.)

The Collar

This pattern starts by doing a provisional cast-on then knitting a long and skinny garter-stitch piece to make the collar. While the pattern calls for a crochet provisional cast-on, I’ll be honest that I’ve never figured it out so I went with a basic knitted cast on. I was too excited to actually start cranking out the collar to show you a picture of that, of course.

At the end of the collar, you’ll place a marker in a designated spot, rotate 90 degrees, then pick up along that long side edge – the one with the two knit stitches next to each other.


Placing the marker near the edge

When you’re picking up your edge stitches, be sure to pay attention to the pick-up rate for your size. (In my case, this meant picking up three for every four stitches.) If you’re never knit a collar like this, don’t worry, it’s supposed to look sort of funny. Because you’re on a circular needle and have gone around a hard edge like that, you’re knitting will sort of curve.

After getting all of those edge stitches, you’ll unzip – but go slow! – your provisional cast-on and pick up those last loops. It’ll look something like this.


Lovely, bendy collar after all stitches are picked-up

Cranking Through the Increases

The last step before you start the increases it to, not surprisingly, put in four markers. These markers will let you cruise along without having to constantly count. Just remember, you’ll always knit to your first and after the last marker and increases are placed one stitch away from each increase marker. Also, I will not judge you if you have to write out the rows at this point, with wondering if you’re on the row where you have an extra increase along the button band edge.


Exciting action shot! Okay, not really, but it’s a photo I had.

Separating the Sleeves

You’ll need your waste yarn again, cut into a good foot-long length, just to be safe. When the pattern tells you to do so – you’ll also have a marker on either side of those stitches – you’ll carefully move the stitches from your needle onto that waste yarn.

I tend to move stitches over in pairs, so it’s pretty low risk if a stitch decides to jump off your knitting needle or the needle with the waste yarn.

My first sleeve, on the waste yarn (and before I tied the ends of the waste yarn together – really important!

Next, you’re going to cast on a given number of under-arm stitches. Trust me, no ones under-arm stitches look quite right for a few rows. I’ve tried just about every sort of cast-on and they always wind up sort of wonky.

Next time…increases for the front and the body!

(Want to share your project with me and other KAL participants? Mark your post with #harvestalong and #oneliferecorded. I’m hoping to share some of YOUR photos in a future post!)

Harvest-a-long: Let’s get started